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Men’s Basketball: Irish fall in first round of Big East Tourney

Bobby Griffin | Thursday, March 9, 2006

NEW YORK – For a school with plenty of tradition, Notre Dame had some of it catch up with the team Wednesday in a 67-63 loss to Georgetown in the first round of the Big East tournament.

The loss was another Notre Dame defeat in a contest it had a chance to win in the final minutes. The Irish also lost a first round Big East tournament game for the fifth time in six years.

Coming out of a Georgetown 30-second timeout with 43 seconds remaining, the Hoyas ran down the shot clock before guard Brandon Bowman made an athletic left-handed lay up to give Georgetown a 66-63 lead.

Bowman led Georgetown with a career-high 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He also grabbed seven rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes.

“Bowman had a special performance today,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said following the game. “He made smart plays.”

Irish guard Russell Carter recovered a loose ball on Notre Dame’s final chance to tie the game and was fouled with less than nine seconds remaining. But the junior missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Georgetown forward Jeff Green grabbed the rebound before being fouled.

Green hit the first free throw to make it a 4-point game and missed the second. But with no timeouts remaining and trailing by two possessions, Notre Dame could not recover.

“They’re a very good, very poised basketball team,” Irish coach Mike Brey said of Georgetown following the loss. “I thought we gave up second shots at key times that really hurt us – and we still had a chance to win.”

The Irish struggled on the defensive end, and Georgetown exploited both Notre Dame’s man-to-man and zone looks that it rotated into back-and-forth throughout the game. Georgetown – which attempted 24 3-pointers in the game – also showed a willingness to shoot over Notre Dame, and when the Hoyas (41.4 field goal percentage) missed shots, strong offensive rebounding bailed them out.

“I thought the first shot was missing for the most part, but it was the second shot that hurt us,” Brey said.

Notre Dame jumped out to an 11-0 lead early in the first half, mostly on the back of guard Colin Falls. Falls led the Irish with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting (6-of-11 from 3-point range), but most of his open looks came in the first five minutes.

Georgetown adjusted to Falls’ hot hand and made it tougher for Notre Dame to run its offense through him for the rest of the game.

“I got out in transition the first three or four plays of the game,” Falls said. “They put the clamp down on defense … and made it difficult to get open looks.”

As the Irish cooled down, the Hoyas made more open shots and cut into Notre Dame’s lead. Georgetown went on a 24-13 run to tie the game with 3:19 remaining in the first half.

Irish point guard Chris Quinn struggled on offense for much of the game, and Notre Dame subsequently had trouble getting open looks. Bowman, a long and athletic guard, harassed Quinn in the same way that DePaul guard Sammy Meija did Saturday when he limited Quinn to 11 points in the Irish win.

Quinn finished with eight points on 4-of-11 shooting but added eight assists and five rebounds.

The Irish responded late in the first half with an impressive two-for-one after Georgetown took its first lead with 1:07 left. Forward Rick Cornett hit a lay up on the offensive end followed by a Quinn lay up off a Georgetown miss to take a 30-27 lead into the break.

But Georgetown controlled the tempo in the second half behind center Roy Hibbert’s strong presence on the defensive end. Hibbert grabbed 11 rebounds and added four blocks.

“[Hibbert] is a presence and we need him to continue to be a plus,” Thompson III said.

Irish forward Rob Kurz provided a second half spark for Notre Dame, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting (3-of-4 from 3-point range) and 11 rebounds.

Georgetown advances to play No. 4-seed Marquette today at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will face the winner of the second-round matchup between No. 1 Connecticut and No. 8 Syracuse Friday. Syracuse beat No. 9 Cincinnati Wednesday on a Gerry McNamara 3-pointer with .5 seconds left in the game.